To further accommodate visitors to Cowtown, the Fort Worth City Council, at its March 5 meeting, approved a zoning change at 3619-3625 Byers Ave. for the addition of a boutique hotel with an accessory bar and coffee shop.
The site, just under a half acre, is located a half block west of Montgomery Street, a commercial connector, at the corner of Byers and Margaret Streets, both residential streets. The applicant requested to change the zoning to allow for a three-story, 19-room boutique hotel. The change was required due to the proximity to the two-family district to the west.
The project is being developed by Memo Hospitality Group, headed by Jonathan Morris, an entrepreneur who lives in the neighborhood and currently runs the Fort Worth Barber Shop and The Lathery. The warehouse was originally used to manufacture dry ice.
“I connect people with services, products, and environments to improve their lives,” Morris said. “I take particular pride in doing this with the intention of forcing cultures to collide. I believe this is where new ideas thrive.”
Morris is working with Michael Bennett of Bennett Benner Partners on designing the hotel. Some in the neighborhood have spoken out against the project, concerned about noise and the bar included in the hotel, along with the bar bringing in customers not staying at the hotel, creating parking problems. However, the developers and the neighbors have been discussing changes to the plan to satisfy neighborhood concerns.
“We’ve found common ground, but not quite enough,” Bennett said, adding, “This is also the kind of forward-looking project we need more of in Fort Worth.”
Approval came after several speakers addressed the council, most of whom were in favor.
“I would like to see it (the parking lot) flipped, but it’s certainly the developer and the owner’s right to build on and exercise his creativity however he wants to do it on that property as long as it’s within city standards,” District 7 Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Shingleton said.
“I’ve told Mr. Morris his project has significant merit. I’m going to vote to accept this this project and hope the concerns of the neighborhood will be addressed as we go along.”
Others on the council voiced their individual approval as well.
“Our hope is not in bringing Amazon here. Our hope is not bringing Fortune 500 companies. It’s in people like you, Jonathan,” District 3 Councilman Brian Byrd said.
“I would dare guess you’ll have a whole bunch of people booking at your hotel once it’s opened,” District 5 Councilwoman Gyna Bivens said.
District 4 Councilman Cary Moon said the parking is where it needs to be for when the project is finished “so they can use the existing footprint of the building to revitalize this important project. So I hope the neighborhoods view this as a good public process.”
The property was zoned Medium Industrial from 1940 when the area originally developed with the heavier industrial uses. The area continues to convert away from industrial toward a more tourism-based commercial activity. The site is in proximity to the Will Rogers complex to the north, the new Dickies Arena scheduled for completion later this year, and Montgomery Street, which is currently under reconstruction
to be more pedestrian oriented.
Parking on the west side along Margaret Street serves as a buffer to the residential uses to the west. The building was placed toward Montgomery Street and the existing industrial activity in order to not be imposing onto the residential area.
Additional landscaping is planned in the grass area between the parking and street as a visual buffer.
“I visit boutique hotels as often as I can,” Mayor Betsy Price said. “They are wonderful fun.”